End the squabbling and embrace the opportunities

29th June 2007 at 01:00

What a disappointment that, so soon after Paul Mackney steps down from his role of General Secretary, the old Luddite tendencies of Natfhe (now the UCU) should re-emerge. If the 157 group is cast as themill-owners does that make the UCU the machine workers?

This is no time to be squabbling when we both want the same thing, a confident and flourishing college sector that makes a real difference to people's lives. We know that the contestability agenda will not be going away and that private and public providers will all have a chance to prove their worth in the market-place for adult skills.

We both know that our staff are our greatest asset and that the UCU and college leaders must work together if colleges are to secure a fair share of that market.

The 157 group makes no apology for seeking to promote the key role that colleges should play in this new world. It also realises that new situations call for new solutions. This might be colleges coming together in partnerships, federations or, as the three London colleges are proposing, a merger to ensure that they can effectively compete in this changed environment.

One of FE's greatest strengths has been adaptability. We have seen plenty of industries fold because they have failed to see the threats and grasp the opportunities. We want to ensure that not just 157 colleges thrive but all colleges, and that their staff get a real share of a prosperous future.

I urge the UCU to chuck away the mallets and crowbars and join up to help build the new FE.

Graham Moore

principal, Stoke-on-Trent College, and treasurer, 157 Group

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